Delon Wang
Delon is Trends Manager, Asia Pacific at Mintel. He oversees Trends content and Trends client servicing for the region.

Invented by agricultural research firm D&T Farm, the Mongee Banana’s edible peel was created by slowly cooling the banana’s growth cells to -60°C (-76°F) before thawing them. To eat the banana, consumers are encouraged to wait for brown spots to appear before consumption. Reviewers have said that the peel is very thin and has a similar texture to the inside of the banana.

Unique and ready to eat

Foods served in convenient formats are highly popular in Japan, where time-pressed consumers go for a wide range of ready foods and snack bars as they are easily accessible. According to Mintel research, the country’s snack bar retail market is forecast to see an increase in volume during 2018. D&T Farm’s edible-peel banana may see pickup should it become more readily accessible and affordable, potentially serving as a replacement or complement to snack bars and other ready meals.

Currently, due to its rarity and novelty, the Mongee Banana is likely to appeal to consumers as more of a speciality snack rather than a convenient one. Novelty is also something that attracts Japanese consumers, many of whom are interested in trying out something unique.

Indeed, we’ve seen recent innovations in the food category that satisfy this desire for novelty. Earlier this year, Japanese fast food chain First Kitchen launched a new french fry dish that includes a swirl of Hokkaido dairy ice cream with chocolate sauce, topped with colourful sprinkles. Meanwhile, KitKat Japan launched a ruby chocolate variant specifically for Valentine’s Day. Further, Japan also saw the emergence of non-melting ice cream.

What we think

While D&T Farm’s edible peel banana may draw attention due to its unique mode of consumption, it is likely that this interest will wane in the months to come. Instead, promoting the convenience aspect to Japanese consumers would do better for the product in the long run, helping it to replace other ready-to-eat meals or potentially become a healthier snack alternative.